Exploring the cosmic work of Bridget Riley

This month’s art horoscope explores how artist Bridget Riley’s zodiac sign has influenced her hypnotic work


By Beatrice Robinson


Bridget Riley is an influential British artist whose work creates portals that transport you to different realms. Her colourful pieces create windows for viewers to trip into and they continue to entice new audiences, even today, several decades after their conception.


When first glancing at Riley's work, you might think that the artist is a Pisces, as her work indulges in extra-sensory and mind-altering illusions. This inclination to explore without boundaries and consider altered states is a trait typical of the Pisces zodiac sign – with Neptune as its ruling planet – as constructs of reality are founded on deception and illusion.


Bridget Riley, Painting with Verticals 3, 2006 © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved.

However, it is the consistency in Riley’s work that shows us she is a true Taurus, born on 24th April 1931. Differentiating from the changeable, immersive, and unstable energy of Pisces, Riley’s work has a strict and calculated process, which is a strong Taurean trait.


Although elements of Riley’s zodiac sign are not seen in some aspects of her work, they are reinforced in others. Take, for example, the voyeurism that can be experienced by looking at her paintings – her practice radiates energetic levels which show the intrinsic pleasure of Riley's systematic creation. In this way, Riley brings her subconscious Taurean nature into conscious reality. By carefully planning her works there is a containment and security to her practice, which reflects the emotional turmoil Taurus’ experience with uncertainty. Let’s just say if we were to take a romantic excursion with one of Riley's paintings, it would be one of deep commitment and emotional consistency.


“It is the consistency in Riley’s work that shows us she is a true Taurus.

Naturally ruling the second house of the zodiac wheel, a map in 12 segments illustrating different realms of human experience, the sign of Taurus symbolises how we experience and interact with possessions. Taurus’ are often concerned with systems of value, and where, other than the art world and within gallery spaces, is there a better example of the value, materiality, and significance of objects.


Riley's work, like the grounded Taurean nature, is quietly confident – there is an inherent courage in its aims to question and expand normative modes of perception. Her psychedelic pictorial landscapes bring theories of metaphysics, the fundamental nature of reality, and how it is perceived into tangible form; attributing physical value to metaphysical inquiry.


Bridget Riley, Cataract 3, 1967 © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved.

Although Riley's paintings exist on their own terms, almost extraterrestrial in their indulgence in the sensual and aesthetic concerns of Venus, the planet that rules Taurus, they are also totems, contributing a microcosmic insight into the counter-cultural movement (a moment in recent history, between 1964 and 1972, where conventional ideologies were rejected by a creative subculture).


The extra-sensory experimentation that took place in the 1960s, through the Happenings and Acid Tests (which were performative art installations that enlisted, in some cases, the help of mind altering substances, such as LSD, to traverse boundaries of perception) inspired Riley as they were breaking mainstream expectations and triggering cultural shifts to expand how we perceive and interact with reality.


“Riley's work not only embodies ideologies that correspond with concerns on the metaphysical plane, but she channels and manifests the archetypes of a Taurus.“

Powerfully aligned with her zodiac sign, Riley's work not only embodies ideologies that correspond with concerns on the metaphysical plane, but she channels and manifests the archetypes of a Taurus, and the concerns of the house it rules. Riley’s work taps into corners of the mind which are not frequently utilised, and in alignment with the second house, sanctifies and grants hierarchy to hidden realms of the psyche within her paintings.